5 Years Ago: Kadizora Camp

Monwana Lodge at Thornybush was a great way to start our safari adventure. They had all of the big five African game animals, and we had closeup experiences with them all. That’s the benefit of a game reserve that’s relatively compact in size.

The Okavango Delta, our next stop, is much more vast and open. On October 30, we flew from Johannesburg to Maun, Botswana in a large jet, and from Maun to the dirt airfield at Kadizora Camp in a puddle jumper. Specifically, a single engine, high-wing GA8 Airvan, made by Gippsland Aeronautics of Australia. (I tried to take photos of each flight’s safety info card.)

I’m pretty sure this was the first time I’ve landed at a dirt airstrip, and the first time I’ve sat directly behind the pilot without a barrier. So neat to be able to watch the pilot at work, observe the instruments and feel the plane’s attitude change as he makes small movements with his hands.

We were met by our guide from Kadizora, Two Boy (the second son born into his family) in a Toyota Land Cruiser. The Toyota was the overwhelming winner of the African safari business, with Land Rover Defenders coming in a distant second place. All were diesel powered.

Kadizora Camp fairly oozed with the flavor of your mind’s image of a safari. A group of olive green canvas tents setup on elevated wooden platforms, with a central gathering area, a dining tent, a small swimming pool, mostly connected by elevated plank walkways to keep the tourist’s feet away from the various insects and vermin scurrying around in the sandy soil. Oil lanterns providing a soft warm light as the sky darkens. An elephant skull here, a rhinoceros skull there.

On the evening of our first day there, after a rest from the day’s travels, I went out for a paddle in a mokoro. Or rather I should say, a guide paddled (poled, really) while I sat and gawked at the scenery. Mom decided that resting was better than wobbling around in a very small canoe. I had hoped to be able to wet a line somewhere during out trip, and this was the best opportunity. They handed me a well worn spinning rod with a Mepps Comet tied on, and I made a dozen or so casts when the guide suggested a spot. I had a couple of savage bites, but wasn’t able to get the sharp end set into whatever toothy fish had bent the treble hook. How great would it have been to have a picture with a tigerfish!

We are watching you.

The mokoro, a modern fiberglass version of a traditional African hand hewn log canoe, was poled though some very narrow channels with tall grasses obscuring the view. Knowing that both crocodiles and giant hippos shared the water with us made it slightly worrying, but certainly exciting. At one point, when we were in open water a safe distance from a huge herd of hippos, I was asking the guide how many he thought were there, when a train of bubbles and a wake less than a boat’s length away gave away the position of a submerged hippopotamus. We heard many times during our time in Africa that the hippo is the most dangerous animal on the continent, up to 9,000 pounds and angry!

Our morning game drive the next day was similar to the first one at Thornybush, but also better in many ways. The territory was much greener and the tracks less pounded into the ground. It felt wilder. We did not stumble across lions right away, in fact, we never did spot lions while at Kadizora. Two Boy tried hard to find a track to follow, but it didn’t matter to us, we saw different wildlife in a different environment. We watched a pack of painted dogs up close. We saw a troop of baboons. The elephant, zebra, giraffe and various antelope were plentiful. Two Boy’s knowledge of the flora and fauna was deep, and he would point out interesting small birds (kingfishers and bee eaters), relay details of termite mounds and how you could navigate by their shape, as well as sharing roofing techniques using reeds harvested from the water! A very interesting man to talk to.

Two Boy, Kadizora Guide
Two Boy, outstanding in his field.

We had an interesting chat one evening with the camp manager about the elephant population and the difficulties in managing it. He relayed to us a story of how Kruger National Park had such an overpopulation problem at one point that they regularly shot them and sent the carcasses to a plant where they were turned into canned meat. Eventually there was an outcry over the cravenness of shooting mothers and babies and the program stopped, to the storyteller’s disappointment. There was also a tale about a fence that had been built across an entire country, to somehow manage animal populations, but it ended with thousands of dead animals trapped by the fence and starved to death. Humans are often very bad neighbors.

We departed Kadizora on Wednesday, November 2 and flew to Kasane in another GA8 Airvan, this time piloted by a remarkable and lovely woman named Ms. Immaculate. I suspect my Mom was just so happy to see a young woman making a career in aviation, perhaps because back when she was the same age, in America, it would have been a very unlikely sight. Progress.

Chobe National Park is the next destination, coming up here in a few days. My internet connectivity at my current headquarters, Lake Mead, Nevada is intermittent to nonexistent. Thanks for your patience.

(Click any photo below for larger images and captions.)

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